A Return to the Gothic for The Skeleton Key

My fascination with the macabre began as a child when I sat rapt watching Bela Lugosi and his vampire brides in the 1931 black and white classic, Dracula, on our…

By Tara Moss

Nov 30, 2012

My ninth novel, The Skeleton Key, officially hits stores today, as the third in my Pandora English paranormal or speculative fiction series. (Or as I prefer to call it, ‘weird fiction’, the term HP Lovecraft used.)

Pandora’s world is set in a contemporary, alternate New York inhabited by all manner of supernatural beings and figures from ancient mythology and folklore. It is a great pleasure to write, not least because it gives me an opportunity to channel my obsession with all things gothic and delightfully macabre into a fantasy world I can thoroughly immerse myself in.

My fascination with the macabre began as a child when I sat rapt watching Bela Lugosi and his vampire brides in the 1931 black and white classic, Dracula, on our TV in the family room. I was perhaps 6. Over the years that fascination was helped along by Mary Shelley, Poe, Edward Gorey, HP Lovecraft, Stephen KingTim Burton, Charles Addam’s The Addams Family and more recently Joss Whedon and Charlaine Harris.

One of the things I love most about writing this series is the excuse to satisfy my dark fascinations with research into Victorian ghost stories, necromancy, black magic, nineteenth century spiritualism, supernatural folklore and ancient mythology, all of which play strong roles in the series. (As an added bonus, it also gives me an excuse to share the peculiar antiques in my haunted tea room, or dress up in some of my Victoriana, as I did for The Skeleton Key inside jacket, above, photographed by Elizabeth Allnutt and swathed in my black brocade Midnight Bustle by Kambriel, wreathed in a Spektor-like mist in my wild backyard. The heavy mists at my mountain home inspired Spektor’s supernatural fog in the series, and they came out again just in time for our shoot. Lucky us.)

In The Skeleton Key, Pandora sets out to learn more about her great aunt’s haunted mansion in Spektor – the Manhattan suburb that doesn’t appear on maps – and she gets much more than she bargained for. This third novel contains some significant reveals about Pandora’s world:


By day, Pandora English is a lowly fashion assistant. But by night, she is a supernatural scion.

The Crow Moon is rising and Pandora has a date with Civil War soldier Lieutenant Luke, who will be flesh-and-blood for one night only. When Lieutenant Luke disappears, Pandora must unlock the mysteries of Number One Addams Avenue with her skeleton key and discover the secrets that lie in the forgotten laboratory of Dr Edmund Barrett.

For Pandora has been warned: a powerful force is in the house.

As Friday the Thirteenth looms, Pandora English and the citizens of Spektor are in grave danger. For the dead will rise and terror shall reign.


With the book now on shelves, I am busy researching ancient Egypt for the fourth novel in the series, The Cobra Queen, due for publication in Dec 2013.

Reviews of The Skeleton Key have already started coming in. Here are a few:

The Skeleton Key is the third instalment in the ‘Pandora English’ series—paranormal adventure stories interwoven with elements of mythology and populated with handsome men, ghosts, witches, vampires and a colourful array of undead folk… The series is fun and makes some humorous swipes at the fashion and beauty industries.’ – Bookseller+Publisher magazine.

The Skeleton Key, the third installment of the series, has more to offer than the first two, and that’s saying something because the first two were a blast… It’s delivered with Moss’ trademark slightly wry style which is both fun and easy to read. The book ends leaving you wanting to cast your own dark spell over Moss to make her hurry up and write the next one. 5 Stars. Hats off!’ – Author SJB Gilmour 

‘Packed with twists and turns, this book will keep you turning pages long into the night…As the full moon rises, prepare for the ultimate giddying climax.’ – Maddison Hawkins at SassiSam

‘…much more Buffy than Twilight…Tara Moss creates an interesting world full of all the usual paranormal types, and manages to avoid the same-old-same-old trap. One of the things I liked most about The Skeleton Key was the humour that marked the narrative and the character voice. There’s a healthy sense of irony here, and that makes the occasional genuinely creepy moment stand out even more… The Skeleton Key [is] a light and enjoyable read.’ – Author Tara Calaby.

‘I enjoyed the notion of obsessive compulsive vampires – that particular piece of folklore is genuine, by the way…There was a gentle humour in this one that I liked very much and it’s not difficult reading for reluctant readers.’ –  Author .

The Skeleton Key is now available online in all electronic formats including iTunesKobo, and Kindle, as well as audio book and, of course, as a beautifully produced print book, complete with skeleton key dinkus, published by Pan Macmillan Aus/NZ.

Happy reading.


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  1. Daniel Dalton

    Congrats, Tara. All the best with the new book 🙂

  2. Phillip A. Ellis

    I am pleased to say that I am waiting on a copy to arrive any day now, via my local bookstore. I have enjoyed the previous two books, as i have enjoyed all of your novels, and can only hope that there’s some poetry in you (says one who is metre mad).

  3. Grace Delgado

    I just finished your last book and again like all your other books (I have read them all) I just loved it, I couldn’t put it down. You certainly take me away from everyday reality, we all need to unwind after busy workdays and your books is all I love to read.
    Congratulations, and I can’t wait till the next one.

  4. Julie Mattinson

    Another great book in the Pandora series! I really love the stories and losing myself in the whole mystery of the setting. Read this one almost overnight, I just couldn’t put it down. Can’t wait to get the next installment. Fantastic!! Keep them coming please…Really love the covers on the books, great artwork and helped draw me in to pick up the first novel..

  5. Jonelle

    I love this series. I only bought the Skeleton Key last weekend and I read it within a week to and from work on the train. My husband was shocked when I told him i needed to buy another book already. So…when is the next one?
    I guess i will go back to your other series for now while I wait but please hurry!!
    Oh and don’t hurt Jay, i want that relationship to blossom!

  6. tess o'brien

    your my favourite author i love all your novels,it takes me to another world i cant wait till the cobra queen comes out xo

  7. Merridee

    Love your Pandora English books when is your next one due after The Skeleton Key…

  8. Heather

    After reading the first of the Pandora English series I couldn’t wait for the next and the next and have now finished the Mak Vanderwall series as well enjoying them all. I agree with the others here the covers of the Pandora English series are wonderful and am looking forward now to the Cobra Queen.

  9. Juliana

    I really enjoyed reading this book! It’s the first of your Pandora English series that I picked up, and after I finished it, I went on to the Blood Countess and the Spider Goddess. I have to say, even going out of sync in the series it was still enjoyable and not boring in the least to read the back stories. I’m so glad you’re writing Cobra Queen and can’t wait!

    I’m now plowing through the Makedde Vanderwall series too, which is so different! I love the detail and narrative style too though.

    Just one question… when you write about the settings in Sydney, Canada and New York do you draw solely on your experiences and memories of the place, or find another way to describe them?

  10. Teresa

    Hello Tara,

    Absolutely love the Pandora English series! Will The Cobra Queen still be published in December 2013?

    Kind regards,

  11. anna russo

    Love your Pandara English books, could you please tell me when is the new release date for The
    cobra Queen? (in books)
    regards Anna

  12. Evelyn

    I’m so waiting for your next book in the pandora

  13. Lynne

    Hi love the Pandora books when is Cobra Queen coming to Australia – thanks

  14. Bethany Henry

    Please tell me that the Cobra Queen will be released in book format here in Australia, I am so looking forward to reading it.


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